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Water forms floating ‘bridge’ with high voltage


Austrian physicists discovered an unusual and unexpected effect liquid water is exposed to an electric field: a floating water bridge. The group from Graz University of Technology suggestes that the explanation may lie within the nature of the water’s structure.

Initially, the bridge forms due to electrostatic charges on the surface of the water. The electric field then concentrates inside the water, arranging the water molecules to form a highly ordered microstructure. This microstructure remains stable, keeping the bridge intact. The cylindrical water bridge, with a diameter of 1-3 mm, could remain intact when the beakers were pulled apart at a distance of up to 25 mm.

The researchers also noticed a pattern with the inner structures: every experiment started with a single inner structure, which then decayed into additional structures after a few minutes of operation. The group thought that this decay might be caused by either dust contamination or the increasing temperature of the water bridge under the electric field. As the water temperature increased from 20 degrees Celsius to more than 60 degrees Celsius—which took about 45 minutes—the bridge collapsed.

This obvisouly reminds of The Abyss:


The study is Fuchs, Elmar C., Woisetschläger, Jakob, Gatterer, Karl, Maier, Eugen, Pecnik, René, Holler, Gert, and Eisenkölbl, Helmut. “The floating water bridge.” J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 40 (2007) 6112-6114. [via Physorg]

Chemicool.com – A chemistry website with a detailed periodic table. Complete in information on chemical elements and their properties.

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UFO photos: Out of focus images


Starting from a punctual object (O1), completely in focus, the light rays, after going through the lens, will pass through the center (O3) of the diaphragm and then through the second lens, ending in the photographic film in a point (F1), completely in focus.

On the other hand, starting from a punctual object (O2), completely out of focus, the light rays, after going through the lens, would converge at the point O4, but some of the light rays will be blocked by the diaphragm. Only part of it will pass through.

This part is, in fact, a cone with thousands of rays of light. Between points O3 and O4 we have what is called the circle of minimum confusion. As only light will pass, out of focus, through the diaphragm, and it blocks part of the light rays, then the physical shape of the diaphram is imprinted to the photographic film.


Spherical Aberration

It occurs when the objective lens is incapable of focusing the outer and axial rays in the same point. Because of the lens curvature, the borders are thinner while the center is thicker. If the lens is hit by parallel rays, they will pass through different thicknesses in the lens, and will therefore form many different focus points.

An objective lens with spherical aberration will form a diffuse image with little contrast in all visual field. We can reduce the problem closing the diaphragm, using only the central region of the lens.


An objective lens is composed of many elements, going from 7 up to 15 lenses, depending on its quality. This is all to eliminate or reduce the aberrations.

In the image below, we can see that a light was cut out of the original photo, to the right. It generated a coma reflection, to the left (notice the symmetry). Around the reflection we also see a good example of spherical aberration, forming a big ring.


This effect is very common on night films seen on the movies or TV, when car headlights are filmed coming towards the camera. It’s also very clear with TV studio light spots.

Out of focus


Something very similar happens with unfocused images. If we have the focus on a person, for instance, and in the background we have one or more lights, those will be out of focus, and reach the camera on that circle of minimum confusion.

This will imprint the image of the diaphragm on the photo. If we have a diaphragm with five parts, as in the example above, then the unfocused images will have that shape: a pentagon. If the diaphragm has six parts, as in the example below, we will have hexagons. And so on.


The same thing happens if you photograph a light source very closely, with the focus set to infinite. IN the example above, the small holes were captured in film as hexagons, as the diaphragm of the camera had six parts. At left, it’s also possible to see a reddish spherical aberration.


In this photo we can see that it’s out of focus, since the hexagons are all parallel to each other. If they were on a curve, they would align toward a common point.



The coma aberration happens when an objective lens is incapable of forming a puncutal oblique image, producing instead an asymmetrical light area. The light rays are reflected by the internal lenses and reach the film.

This aberration is the one most often confused with UFOs. See the example above of a photo that was cropped. In the uncropped photo, there will always be a symmetry of the source and the reflection in relation to the center of the photograph.

It’s always important to analyze the negatives to verify if the photograph wasn’t developed with cropping. See some examples below.





Symmetry highlighted


Out of the visual field

Another interesting visual effect mistaken with UFOs occurs when the source of the light lies outside the visual field of the camera, but insed the visual field of the first lens (the outermost lens).

Those are usually taken almost against the Sun. This effect can be avoided by using a shade. See two examples below:


If you read and understood this article, you will probably start to look at UFO photos with a different view. You may also watch TV in a different way, noticing the many squares, pentagons, hexagons and polygons in general that appear all the time, as well as the Coma and spherical aberrations.

— By Claudeir Covo, ufologist and president of the Brazilian National Institute of Aerospatial Phenomena Investigation – INFA
And Paola Lucherini Covo, ufologist and secretary of INFA

Translated with their kind permission

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New UAP website: Caelestia


CAELESTIA was initiated in 1994. Its purpose: to collect, investigate and document reports of unidentified aerial phenomena. The name CAELESTIA is borrowed from Latin and can best be translated as “affairs of the heavens”. The general idea behind the initiative was – and still is – that reports of “Unidentified Flying Objects” deserve a more correct treatment, be it from the scientific community or from the UFO community itself.

Special notice to the superb picture galleries, with an extensive list of objects and phenomena that can be mistaken for UFOs. The resarch & discussion also has some nice work, including an evaluation of the Belgian UFO wave, as as the case examples.

[via Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos]

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Aliens and Peak Oil


Via The Anomalist, a nice essay by Mike Baron: Peak Oil and the Fermi Paradox.

The hydrocarbon energy available to a planetary civilization is analogous to the yolk of an egg: just as the yolk offers a newly emerged creature needed energy to break out of the egg and get established in the wider world, so too does a planet’s hydrocarbon energy deposits provide an emergent technological civilization the boost it needs to leave its birthworld and establish itself in its solar system. It offers a very brief window of opportunity to allow a species to develop the technologies and techniques to bootstrap itself off of its planet of origin. Once out into space, a civilization can take advantage of the thousandfold greater material and energy resources found across the solar system. Meanwhile the birthworld can rest and regenerate from its difficult birthing.

This adds to Drake’s equation and the Rare Earth hypothesis to solve the Fermi Paradox. It’s very interesting to emphasize the concept of a small window of opportunity for a civilization to leave the gravity well of its home-planet, but there are some problems for this to be a simple answer to the Italian physicist’s paradox.

The Peak Oil Apocalipse scenario is greatly exaggerated. It may put some stress on our economical and political systems, but the risk we may blow up the planet because of that is still lower than it was during the whole Cold War, when for most of the time oil was extremely cheap.

If a civilization manages to survive the age of a cheap and easily accessible hydrocabon energy source, even if did not manage to colonize space, it will be able to do that if it wants. And the lack of cheap oil may even be a strong incentive to colonize space, as cheap energy sources may lie outside the home-planet. A specially beautiful idea mentioned by Carl Sagan was to use nuclear warheads as fuel for nuclear pulse rockets.

The point is, as long as a technological civilization with a sufficiently developed science exists, it will be able to colonize space if it really wants to do that. Besides the energy stored in nuclear fuels, the energy required to put something into orbit is lower than the solar energy it may collect and direct back to the Earth, for instance. It may all be more expensive than cheap oil, and the total energy available to us my decrease substantially, but as long as science and technology exists, the colonization of space and the possible discovery and access to new sources of cheap energy are always a possibility.

Another interesting point, though, is also advanced by John Micheal Greer on Solving Fermi’s Paradox.

Greer too emphasizes the limited amount of cheap non-renewable energy and the implications of that to the Fermi paradox. But he also notes that besides the gravity well of the home-planet, there’s also the huge vacuum between the planetary systems.

So, even if a civilization manages to colonize some of the planets in its own solar system, that’s still a small step compared to the huge jump ahead. Difficult as interplanetary colonization my look, it’s close to nothing compared to interstellar colonization.

That’s very true, but again, I don’t think energy would be a fundamental problem making interstellar colonization impossible — at least not for an interplanetary civilization. As long as the civilization continues to develop science and technology and doesn’t annihilate itself, its main star will be providing plenty of energy that could be collected, stored and used for interstellar travel. But as for leaving the home-planet, it would take the will and possibly the need to do that.

Overall, all those concepts may indeed solve Fermi’s Paradox, though none of them are absolute.

The Rare Earth hypothesis may not mean we are alone, but it may mean civilizations are indeed extremely rare.

The small window of opportunity to use cheap energy sources (if they are available in the first place!) may not stop a civilization from leaving its home-planet, but it may make things much more difficult. And cheap energy on the home-planet may also induce the species to enjoy all it can on its home-planet with silly things like storing countless nuclear weapons, SUVs and private jets. Also, chemical rockets. It may boost civilization, but it may also blow up the planet.

And then, what is very likely, the huge distances between the stars may mean that there could be absolutely no reward on expanding to such distances. It may only be possible with automated probes that could take too much time to reach their destination and provide no benefit to the builders for millions of years.

There’s just one problem, though. The Fermi Paradox only takes one single civilization to dedicate itself, for whatever reason, to colonize the Galaxy for a few million years. There are also many other different concepts for interstellar colonization. A Von Neumann probe could do it.

Observation suggests not one single civilization did that in the whole history of our Galaxy, and as far was we know, the entire Universe (there are no visibly engineered galaxies). The Paradox is still there. My obvious guess is that’s something to do with some fundamental thing about the Universe we still don’t have any idea about.

The Fermi Paradox may be the single most fundamental question of 20th century science. We now know how puzzling it really is — before that, we didn’t know how large and how old the Universe is, we also didn’t really know much about the other planets and the fact there is no sign of intelligent life out there.

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Strange and beautiful "UFO" clouds

Location: Pirinopolis, Goias, Brazil
Date: February 2005

Regina Sylvia sent us this series of three amazing photos that she described as “UFOs disguised as clouds“. We suggested to her that they could have been just clouds, and she told us that:
“This ‘cloud’ was something strange… If it was just a cloud… I don’t know, but on this day we were going to the Pirineus (in Pirinopolis, Goias), and as we stopped at the city we saw this first cloud. Huge, amazing. Afterwards on our house, around two hours later, we saw the same cloud, huge, but it wasn’t just one, as there was another, smaller, a little to the left. The night came and… another cloud appeared in the same place, lit as if the Moon was behind it.”

At first sight, we thought these were just common lenticular clouds, as we told Regina. These clouds are formed with strong, vertical winds on irregular terrain. They also resemble “mountain cap” clouds, formed over the top of mountains.

But the images are not like the common lenticular clouds — as noted by Andreia Tschiedel, who remarked that these clouds are joined closely by other types of clouds. The first image shows a cumulus clouds along with the intriguing semi-spherical, translucent cloud. Were they UFOs disguising as clouds? Well, we Googled some more, and found a possible prosaic explanation.

Nuvem PileusThey are Pileus clouds. “Pileus caps are made of ice crystals high in the troposphere. They form as a slab of air is shoved upward, in the shape of a dome or cap, just above a rapidly rising convective tower. Moisture in the dome condenses directly into an ice fog as the air rises and cools, forming the pileus. Next, the convection shoots right through the pileus layer. The lifted layer above the convective tower can’t be too dry (must have high humidity), or the pileus cap won’t develop.

As images may be worth more than words, we present the image of the month for May 2005 of the Cloud Appreciation Society, taken by Justin Moore:

(source: CAS Cloud of the Month, May 2005)

With thanks to Regina Sylvia for the beautiful images.

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